A child’s birthday is a time to celebrate, and parents typically take the lead in carrying out plans to make the day special. But when kids are traveling with a school group, their teachers often step in to make sure it is a day to remember.

Here are nine ideas for educational trip leaders to help shine the spotlight on the birthday boy or girl.

1.  Birthday Breakfast

This is the best time of day to bring out the sugary treats. Ask parents if they want to order a cake or cupcakes in advance that can be delivered to the hotel the night before so the treat is ready to go in the morning. Be sure to let the parents know the count for your group so there is enough for everyone. Your student travel consultant should be able to recommend a good bakery that will deliver.

2.  Napkins

Birthday napkins pack easily in a suitcase and they add to the birthday celebration during any meal of the day. Ask parents to bring a supply to the airport and slip them into your luggage.

3.  Room Decor

Let the student’s roommates know about the birthday. Ask them to each bring one supply to decorate the room, such as a glass-safe marker to write a special message on the mirrors, tape, and streamers to hang in the bathroom doorway, and balloons to blow up for the floor. 

4.  Bus Decor

Ask your student travel consultant if the bus company has rules about writing on the windows. If not, you can use the glass-safe markers to write a birthday message on the student’s window.

5.  Flair

Parents may want to send celebration beads, a button, or other flairs along. Ask them to make sure it fits into a gallon bag for easy storage and travel. The birthday boy or girl can pass out the goodies at breakfast or on the bus. Again, make sure parents know the count of the group.

6.  Goodie Bag

Leave a small birthday bag with goodies in the student’s room as a surprise at the end of the day. Fill the bag with things to share with roomies, like candy, popcorn, and granola bars. Either bring the filled bag from home or fill it while you’re there.

7.  On-site celebrations

If you are staying in a hotel or visiting a theme park, let them know about any birthday celebrations. They may have something special to share. For example, Disney offers a free birthday pin and they offer a special birthday call from a Disney character.

8.  Postcard Birthday Wishes

Pick up a postcard from a place you visit that day and pass it around the bus or at a meal so the group can share their birthday wishes.

9.  Birthday Photographer

Before traveling, ask a friend of the birthday boy or girl to take pictures and share them with the student’s parents in text or email. They will appreciate seeing photos of their pride and joy on their special day.

Planning ahead with parents and your travel consultant at NationsClassroom can help make sure student birthdays are a day they will always remember.

Originally published July 2017, updated July 2021